Nov 7 (Wed.) Bhutan Day 1 Thinphu
The skilled Druk Airlines pilot threaded our Airbus 319 through the mountains on the final approach to the Paro Airport (the only one in Bhutan). No other airline is allowed to land or take off from Bhutan because of the skill needed to navigate through these Himalaya obstacles. After clearing customs and immigration, we met our guide for the week, Tshering Wangchuk. The other two members of our group (Lois and Tom) were scheduled to arrive later in
the afternoon, so we went directly to Thinpu with several stops on the way to capture the majesty of the clear, blue sky and soaring mountains. We also saw and heard the roaring waters of the glacier fed rivers, crossed an ancient (newly restored) bridge with the original iron chains from over 500 years ago.
On our way to lunch, we visited an ancient fortress which is now a monastery where monks were sorting through rice. There is no separation of church and state in Bhutan since the Buddhist religion is ingrained into the culture and is the way of life in this Kingdom. Our guide gave us many lessons on Buddhism as we visited temples throughout this trip. Upon arrival at our hotel we were given a special blessing by a monk and adorned with a red string around our necks with a sprinkling of saffron water on our heads plus a tiny sip.
At nearly sunset, we headed out to a Stupa (The King's Memorial Stupa) dedicated to world peace where we saw large prayer wheels and circled this stupa in a clockwise direction. Here we met Lois and Tom our companions for the next week. They turned out to be delightful to travel with.
We enjoyed an excellent dinner in the Bhutanese Restaurant in the hotel.